On Tuesday, an Israeli government press release quoted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s rebuke to Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney over his country’s pro-Palestinian sympathies, but omitted any remarks from the latter.
On Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin’s office issued a statement after a meeting with the minister that gave his side of the conversation, as well.
“I know there is an impression here that Ireland takes a different position to Israel. Can I say that in essence though, we are yearning for the same thing that I think the vast majority of Israelis are, which is a peaceful future,” Coveney said, after his meeting with Rivlin.
“We have experienced a lot of violence on our own island, and we are still working on a peace process;…the reason that Irish people are so interested in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and conflict is because we have had a violent past ourselves, and we see this as one of the great conflicts and divisions in the world.”
“My reason for being here – the first visit I have made as foreign minister outside Europe – is despite what people may sometimes feel about Ireland, we do care about this region, and want to be helpful,” Coveney concluded.
Rivlin did not rebuke his visitor.
“We would like to welcome him,” said the president, “I think the relationship between Israel and Ireland is very important, in spite of differences of opinion which we have from time to time.”
“We have differences of opinion and we can respect that, but we really are against the idea of boycott; I believe that among people who respect one another we have the ability to criticize from time to time, and also to explain the real facts according to our beliefs.”